Hornets savor regional title, get back to work
Pellston coach Cliff Hass talks with his players during a timeout Wednesday in a Class D regional championship game at Gaylord High School. (Kurt Grangood/News-Review)
There could have been chemistry issues early on, but if there were, they were ironed out. The fact that Christopher’s father, Cliff, was the Hornet coach, could have added fuel to critics’ potential fire.
The Hornets have blended and blossomed, and today, any of those criticisms sound downright ridiculous.
While Christopher Hass garners most of the headlines — and rightfully so — Hamlin has developed into a standout in his own right in his four years alongside Hass on the varsity. The 6-foot-4 Hamlin has scored more than 1,000 points in his career.
“In seventh- and eighth-grade, we only lost one game through both of those years,” Schlosser said. “It was pretty cool, but everything gets more serious once you get into high school. Then you get Chris into that mix, and it’s like, bam, you’ve got the best duo of players, probably, in the North.
“You’ve got two superstars, and everyone else just adds to it. I think playing your role is the best way to put it. You can’t try to do too much, or you’re just going to cause a lot of drama, cause bad things to happen. And I think everyone understands that.”
Another solid group, now juniors, followed, led by the likes of Jake Friedenstab, Max Ketterer and Dale Stark. Stark stands 6-5, Ketterer 6-4. You put those two on the floor alongside Hamlin and Hass, and Pellston has one of the most imposing lineups you’ll ever see from a Class D school.
Get on board
The effect this Hornet team has had on the Pellston community is hardly lost on the players.
“I think the main thing is we’re bringing our community together,” Christopher Hass said. “Just seeing our whole community down there (at Gaylord) was unreal. You look up in the stands and you see people you haven’t seen in years. I like that.”
It seemed the entire town mobilized on Wednesday night, heading south to Gaylord. Expect the same as the Hornets go north to Sault Ste. Marie next week for the quarterfinal.
Monica Kline was among them Wednesday, and she plans to be there next week at Sault Ste. Marie High School.
“Unbelievable the number of (Pellston) people who were there (at Gaylord),” said Kline, a 1972 Pellston graduate who retired in January after teaching physical education and health for 21 years at the school. “It was great to see the community backing these boys.”
It isn’t like there has been a dearth of athletic success at Pellston. It’s volleyball program has been among the best in the state in Class D for the past decade and a half, and the school always seems to turn out solid-to-very-good baseball and softball teams.
But this boys basketball team has captured the hearts — and hopes — of the community in a very special way.
Part of that, undoubtedly, is the fact that it’s been nearly seven decades since a Hornet boys basketball team has gone this far in the state tournament.
The other part, clearly, is what happens in small towns everywhere when the local boys do well. No, not everybody in the stands knows every kid on the team personally, but you can bet they know the moms and dads, aunts and uncles, grandparents and even the great grandparents.
“I looked across (the Gaylord gym) and it was like, ‘Look who’s here, Look who’s here,’” Kline said. “Three-quarters of that gym was people from our community. I saw people from Mackinaw and Harbor and Petoskey and whatnot too.”
Pellston’s the last team standing in an area where high school sports matter, and matter a lot. What the local teams do can have an impact on a town’s, an area’s, morale, it’s sense of identity.
Today, Pellston is swelling with pride.